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Chamber speaks on Municipal Development Cost Charges

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September 18, 2017
This letter to the editor appeared in the Brandon Sun, September 19th, 2017 edition.

The Brandon Chamber of Commerce, over the past ten months, has actively been involved in the process of evaluating the proposed Development Cost Charges, currently under consideration by Brandon City Council. 

For most people, it is easy to forget that growth comes with a cost.  We enjoy the benefits of new stores, diverse dining options, recreation venues, and an airline providing flights in and out of our community.  However, generally we don’t think about the hidden costs involved with growth; the need to expand water or waste water treatment plants, the need to add lift stations, expand roadways or put in new traffic lights. 

These investments are necessary for the ongoing sustainability of our community, and there are substantial costs associated with these projects.  The essence of the debate taking place right now is in determining who pays how much, and how the money will be collected.  Currently, fees for growth-related infrastructure are collected through development agreements between the City and the developers.  The City of Brandon currently funds a portion of the growth infrastructure required through their budget process.  So why the need to change?

It has been identified that there is approximately $124 million in infrastructure requirements over the next thirty years.  Under the current funding arrangement, there simply isn’t enough money being collected to fund this identified growth.  We continue to fall behind.

The Chamber recognizes that whether through development agreements or development cost charges, developers and builders on average will likely experience an increase in the costs associated with development. However, they are only one side of the equation. City Council will be required to fund their portion as well.  They only have so many avenues for funding: tax increases, utility rate increases, other levels of government, and user fees. Due to high increases in operational costs over the years, many government agencies are starting to look for savings within their own operations.  This will be essential to continue the viability of our cities growth, and we strongly encourage the city to start looking at ways of cost savings within their own operations.

In our presentation, as part of the public hearing, we stressed that while the focus has been on how the City intends to collect the growth-related infrastructure costs from builders and developers, the Chamber feels that the bigger concern is in how Council intends to pay for their portion and what the impact will be to the broader community.

While the decision currently facing City Council on the surface may seem rather easy, this is a complex problem, with no simple solution.  No one likes to pay more taxes, or see changes in service, but to stifle growth has a tremendous cost as well.  This problem was not created overnight, and shouldn’t be solved overnight; however, it is a conversation long overdue.  The Chamber is confident that if we continue the transparency and openness demonstrated thus far in the process, we will find the best answer for all involved.
The Brandon Chamber would like to, once again, thank all parties that were involved through any of the processes taken, and we look forward to many more to come.

Click to view the: Chamber Presentation: Development Charges that was presented to city council on September 11, 2017.
Carolynn Cancade, General Manager
(204) 571-5342